Radical changes needed to entire health system


INSTEAD of trying to cut millions from its budget in savings exercises, the entire health system needs to be split in two, according to a local campaigner.
Last week the Western Trust published a draft savings plan which could see £12.5 million slashed from the local health service.
The proposals are now out for public consultation and, if accepted, could see the closure this winter of a full elderly ward at SWAH, cuts to home care packages, and threats to day services in parts of the county.
One local GP told the Herald older people were already suffering as a result of previous cuts. He said he knew an 81-year-old with health issues who was caring for his wife with dementia, but was given no home help, just funding to source his own. The doctor spoke of a second couple, who both had dementia but had to wait nine months to get home help, while their family had to travel to look after them.
With more cuts now potentially on the way for older people’s health services, one local campaigner has proposed a radical solution.
Marj Aiken from the South West Ageing Partnership called for two separate health budgets to be set up, now people were living longer and the population was continuing to age.
Ms Aiken explained: “They need to stand back and say, look, the NHS was started in 1945, and that was from the cradle to the grave. Then, you retired at 60 and you were dead before you were 70. That was a less than 10 year draw on whatever you paid in over your life.
“After that, when we look forward and people are living longer, is great as they’re healthier, but there’s been no change in the system. We now have to look at heart transplants, knees, ankles, cancer treatments, dementia. It can’t all come out of the same pot. The whole thing needs to taken apart and it needs to be divided.”
Ms Aiken, who is also involved with a number of other groups such as Age Sector Platform and Breath Easy, said a small increase in taxation could pay for this.
“Young people when they go out into work pay their insurance stamp, and that goes into giving them primary health care until they retire. There should be another thing there where you’re paying extra on your national insurance that goes to a ring-fenced pot that cares for you when you’re 67 or 70 onwards, that can be drawn down to look after you.”

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